The Australian Construction Industry Forum (ACIF) has released a policy compendium that makes recommendations to increase productivity in the construction industry.

The 22 page compendium details areas of the industry that need increased productivity, and the policy changes and production innovations that will facilitate these changes.

The architecture and design industry were explicitly mentioned, with the ACIF going so far as to recommend the Federal Government adopt a national architecture policy.

The proposed national architecture policy would focus on the following objectives:

  • Quality design as an investment in the community and environment
  • Quality design in order to reduce waste, disputes and time and cost
  • The utilisation of technology to enhance the design
  • An informed client to produce a better outcome
  • The utilisation of the very best in the industry for all public infrastructure
  • Sustainability design as paramount

The ACIF suggests that, if developed in consultation with industry, the national architecture policy would ensure nation-wide project quality control:

“Government agencies must retain (or hire) expertise within the public sector in project implementation, briefing and design. 

“State and Territory Governments should maintain their Government Architect positions, and the Australian Government should appoint a Government Architect to provide design leadership.

“We recommend that the Australian Government adopt a national architecture policy, developed in consultation with industry.”  

The compendium also strongly recognises the role of Building Information Modelling (BIM) in quality design and recommends government funding to ensure the initiative becomes common and required practice.

“Governments and the industry should support and fund national initiatives for the coordinated introduction of BIM.”

“ACIF and its counterpart the Australasian Procurement and Construction Council will advocate for and monitor coordination of government and private sector BIM implementation requirements.”

Sustainable design was further listed as a priority for policy change, and the ACIF highlighted the necessity of the work of the Australian Sustainable Built Environment Council (ASBEC) to define and measure the progress of sustainable design.

They emphasised the need for governments to provide incentives to encourage the alteration, retrofitting and rebuilding of current building stock in order for developers to achieve more sustainable outcomes.

Detailed recommendations for the off-site management of manufactured construction components also feature within the compendium.

This follows the industry trend towards prefabrication of construction elements.

“Advanced off-site manufacture of building components and systems can improve the efficiency and productivity of construction processes. The advantages include shorter construction times, safer, healthier sites, less waste due to exact elements being delivered to site, less disruption to neighbouring properties, better quality control, reduced unit cost and improved labour productivity,” the compendium states.

Peter Barda, Executive Director of ACIF, believes that quality design needs a corresponding policy and this may involve turning industry trends and conventions on their head.

“It goes without saying (or should) that if we are to do better, we need to do things differently. We need to be prepared to challenge the orthodox approaches that have changed little over decades.”

He also acknowledges that although industry professionals are accustomed to taking risks when designing buildings—particularly non-residential assets, they are reluctant to take risks that will enhance functionality if the benefits are unrecognizable to clients.

"Designers and constructors are understandably reluctant to advocate innovative approaches – whether to design, material selection, or construction processes - when the risk of additional costs is to their account, but benefits all accrue to their clients. Particularly when the result of innovation that is less than optimal is for the designers or constructors or both to be taken out to a paddock and shot. Figuratively at least," Barda says.

The ACIF policies attempt to address this issue by offering the industry ways to innovate and make significant improvements to productivity without sacrificing business efficiency.

They also appeal to government to facilitate and encourage these innovations and change in traditional practices.

The policies and key recommendations have been developed by working groups of ACIF Board members and “represent the considered and consensus positions of the construction industry as a whole”. They will now be submitted to relevant government and industry leaders for discussion and implementation via policy and process changes. 

For more information see the attached Pdf of the Compendium.